Knowledge Management: effectiveness and engagement

KM effectiveness and engagement is conditioned by a series of factors. Here´s a few thoughts which can help to improve your organization´s KM strategy.

KM actions must be directly aligned with business objectives and open manager´s eyes to misalignments, risks, costs, and other factors which can influence their strategic objectives.

In this sense, KM becomes a facilitator as it provides a support function which impacts the outcome of business goals and culture. However, in order to get there we must carefully pave the way and make sure KM goals stay on top of management´s agenda.

Ultimately culture may impose some of the greatest challenges. Learning employee behavior and other components which influence decision and perception serves as prime sources for corrective actions in order to react immediately to certain symptoms that may put on hold a knowledge driven culture.  This type of study must be conducted at least once a year and the results will help to develop an engagement strategy.

We also need to make sure that employee performance takes into consideration certain KM metrics which will allow us to measure KM engagement.  This is also important as employee performance has changed and we have to start looking a certain aspects such as collaboration, knowledge development, innovation, etc.  As employees become aware that they will be measured not only by their technical performance but also by their contribution and participation in KM, results will increase.

“Knowledgeable  Moments” is a term I used to describe any formal KM activity where knowledge is not only being shared but also developed socially.  Looking back at several decades, the cost and challenges of bringing people together were huge. Today´s social media world has opened up a whole new array of possibilities which will ultimately change the way we develop and share knowledge.  The fundamental challenge is to give people access to these tools and steer the outcome towards the organization´s goals. If we expect our employees to open up to change and participate in KM (and increase our Knowledgeable moments) we have to facilitate the process.  

For example, today we can capture and share images, text, voice, etc in a rapid manner and it´s a given fact that the majority of internet traffic comes from mobile devices. What´s missing is the right incorporation of this facilities and curation. According to a recent study conducted by the Corporate Leadership Council, only 17% of organizations are effective at managing social media.

Remember: Gen Y is coming and they tell a different story. In most cases, organizations still refuse to go digital but we will need to take a closer look at social media and get the basics in place.

KM also needs a consistent communication strategy in place. This will help to earn employee´s buy in, reach the entire organization and communicate KM´s value preposition. This is important as an adequate communication strategy will also serve to educate employees on KM value. For example, you can recognize employee participation or transmit important details regarding the KM strategy. I particularly chose to prepare a monthly communication which is send to manager´s in order to keep them up to date with KM goals. Since each business line manager has specific KM goals, it helps to gain their support and commitment. This is the type of sponsorship that we need to develop KM.

Get employee feedback constantly. Share thoughts, ideas and processes with the rest of employees. Make them part of definition making and cross ideas with them before proceeding to the launching phase.

Finally I think it´s important to consider the “learning paradigm” as it imposes a heavy challenge on culture:

  • Learn to Learn
  • Learn to Unlearn
  • Learn to undertake

Given the current information explosion we have to secure the means to rapidly find the information we need and extract value from it. This requires new competencies which are focused on the way we learn as individuals and as part of an enriched socially enabled environment. We also have to work on developing our knowledge transfer skills (oral and written).

However as more knowledge is being developed there is a larger probability that what we know today will become obsolete tomorrow. Since knowledge is synonym of effort and sacrifice (and sometimes money), we are reluctant to let it go in order to learn something new. This means that a knowledge driven culture must also promote open minded employees who see far beyond the present in order to innovate and make decisions.

Finally, knowledge without action is only a potential power. Employees must feel that they have the chance to put in practice what they learn. As knowledge becomes a prime catalyst for business development, there is a large possibility to improve engagement and overall KM performance. 

©Jose Carlos Tenorio Favero

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